A house in Tasiilaq, East Greenland, during a snowy day.

One of the reasons I started heading North in winter is the belief up there there is nobody, but cold, ice, snow and an incalculable amount of dangers. I left for East Greenland at the end of February knowing that among cold, ice, snow and dangers, only ice (balance always unsure), dangers (polar bears are different than those from the animated movie Balto) and destiny could have killed me and I was willing to take the risk. However it is not entirely true that up there there is nobody: up there there are few people who tend to live all together, ’cause there’s strenght in numbers and you can also trust there’s warm in numbers, like it was a physical law.

You get to a tourist accomodation and it’s not a foregone conclusion you can keep a personal space free from other humans: if you sit down reading in an empty room there’s the real chance the next one coming will sit alongside you; if you look the frozen fjord outside the window somebody will have to comment on light, colors and his own feeling of peace; you start writing, then somebody will want to know what you are writing; there is no such thing as sitting at the table and being silent. The locals sit alongside you talking about anything as well. “Does it never happen to you to need some rest from people?“, I do ask myself (and not just me), “and it isn’t about being antisocial or, worse, misanthropic, it’s all about personal capacity“.

Some people leave for days by themselves, with a gun, taking advantage of the bivuacs made by hunters. They are skilled mountaineers, guides having a few free days between groups or young people involved in mountain rescue volunteer organisations at home. Here they explore and work out. You could train and go finding the real solitude, putting kilometers between you and the rest of humanity, heading to isolation. From Bergamo to Tasiilaq, from Tasiilaq to an unnamed bivuac. I thought the headlong pursuit could have no end, so, one day, you could leave for the Moon by swimming. But solitude isn’t only a matter of isolation, this is above all a trick for falling into its arms.

I went fishing on a day of shining sun and sharp-like cold. We were three people, each of us standing beside his own hole in the ice that covers the end of the fjord in front of Tasiilaq; an old local was sitting on his sled, the young man who took me there to show me the art of traditional fishing was taking care of his line. I remember the feeling of cold spreading in my body, the weight of the line in my hand, the two men’s voices speaking their language. Suspension. Like playing dead to the surface of the sea, your body light and relaxed and the world reduced to the blue of the sky. Just less horizontal and less hot. Alone in three people.

In the most gray day of my entire month in Tasiilaq I went dog sledding. We were six people, three for each sled and each sled pulled by twelve dogs. The rustle of the sled on the snow and the steady pace of the dogs are relaxing like the swing of an hammock in the mountain breeze. It isn’t all peaches and dandelions, because against the wind you can exstimate when it was the last time they washed the dogs and they don’t make any pit stop to do their business. Talking becomes unnatural because it distracts from relaxing, pushes away the feeling of floating in the white, of being a sailboat in a bottle. The breeders hurging the dogs are the only sound you can hear. Alone with twelve legs and forty-eight paws.

Solitude isn’t only a matter of isolation. And maybe you can mesure it by multiples of three.